Homeschooling is about way more than education. Just ask anyone who has been at it for a while or has even considered it for a second, and you will get many, many definitions of homeschooling. There are so many varying views of what it means to educate children at home that some people choose to not even call it homeschooling. Some call it home-learning, life-learning, home-education, unschooling, child-led learning, or any other personal variation that resonates with them. Others like to stick with the term homeschooling because of its commonality, but then add an adjective to describe their specific flavor of homeschooling. There’s eclectic homeschooling, classical homeschooling, Montessori-based homeschooling, project-based homeschooling, Waldorf-inspired homeschooling…just to name a few!
But all of this means very little unless you are clear about your goals with homeschooling. What are your goals for your family? What are your priorities? What do you value? If we are not absolutely clear on this, it is very easy to forget why we are doing this in the first place, especially on days when the days when your house in covered in art projects and laundry and everyone in the house is snapping at each other because, well, because it happens, and you just want to take a nap or have a break but you can’t because the kids. are. always. around! J
The truth is…educating our children at home is this crazy mix of challenge and joy. The challenges look different from family to family, and the joy is contagious. Your vision for homeschooling keeps this all in perspective.
A little story about that…We began homeschooling with a very traditional definition, which basically meant school at home. I am a certified teacher and setting up a classroom in my home was fun for me, but not so much for my oldest boy, 5 years old at the time. When time came for him to begin kindergarten, I had a little space in our house with a desk and all the classroomy things, like bright posters with the alphabet and numbers, counting bears, workbooks, and a schedule on the wall.
I should have known the first day that this was not in line with our vision of homeschooling. Maybe I did, but I didn’t know any other way to approach it at the time. Our goals for homeschooling were for our children to love learning, books, and exploring new topics, and from the outside it looked like we were acting in accordance with that vision, but the reality was that my 5 year old hated sitting at that desk doing workbook pages. After only a few weeks, I could see that his love of learning was being squashed. Since we were clear, as a family, that love of learning is something we value, we put the workbooks in a box and there they stayed. I still didn’t really know how to approach homeschooling other than school at home, but I was willing to put it aside for the time being. So we kept on reading great picture books together, making messy art, playing outside, and baking together. At the time, it felt like I was giving up, but really I was following the cues of my son and my own instincts. These tenets became a part of our homeschooling vision: If we were to encourage our children in their love of learning, we could not ignore their individuality or our own. We had to find a way to dance together, taking turns guiding one another, but always respecting that we may not always be hearing the same music.
So before I begin in earnest describing the various homeschooling philosophies, as I promised in yesterday’s post, I challenge you to think about your own assumptions about homeschooling. Does it have to be school at home? Does it mean a set schedule and textbooks? Whatever homeschooling looks like for you, how did you come to your definition? Is it still serving you? Are you unsure of what else there is, how else it can be done?
Then ask yourself, “What are my goals/values for our homeschooling experience?” Are they academic? Interpersonal? Personal? Holistic? Extra-curricular? Or a combination of many?
I’ll be back soon to share more of our experiences and begin to walk you through the various homeschooling philosophies. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the posts in this series, click the follow button at the bottom of your screen. So excited to share our journey with you!